On 5th September 1997, whilst the rest of the British public was mourning the loss of Princess Diana, we were saying ‘I do’. Yes people, today is our 20th wedding anniversary. Twenty years!
I remember celebrating my parent’s silver wedding anniversary as though it was yesterday. Strange to think that we are now nipping at the heels of that great milestone.
What I didn’t realise back then, is quite what a milestone it is. Whether you’re celebrating ten, twenty, twenty-five or fifty years of marriage it really is an achievement. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, marriage isn’t easy. Sharing your life with one person ’til death do us part’ is an absolute privilege but it can also be a bit of a challenge.
I probably don’t need to tell you that by nature I am a realist; thankfully my husband is too. Whilst this means that neither of us are particularly romantic souls, it does minimise disappointment.
Ah, the ‘D’ word. A word that was oddly at the heart of the sermon on our wedding day all those eons ago. Instead of the traditional ‘fluffy’ preach on 1 Corinthians 13, an eerie silence descended across the congregation as the preacher began talking about life (and marriage) being full of disappointment.
Not quite what we were expecting!
In short, he was talking about having realistic expectations: that smelly socks WILL be left on the bedroom floor for three days, that morning breath is a ‘thing’ and that the receding hairline is only going in one direction (ok he didn’t actually say those last two but you get my drift).
During the last two years of our marriage we have experienced our share of disappointments. When our eldest daughter became ill with mental health issues, the comfortable world we had created for ourselves slowly began to crumble. When she dropped out of school during her GCSE year, we were disappointed. When we were told only a few months ago that she couldn’t learn to drive due to medication and too many risky hospital stays, we were disappointed. As we took her to A&E for what felt like the umpteenth time in 24 months, that nagging feeling of disappointment was there yet again.
When you get married and plan a family, these things are not part of the dream. Never in a million years did we think this would happen to our family, to our daughter. We had high hopes for her, she had such high hopes for herself! When those hopes and dreams come crashing down, disappointment is inevitable.
Thinking back to that sermon on our wedding day, it was spot on; life is full of disappointments, always has been and always will be. But what the preacher went on to explain, is that there is also hope. And that is the word that our marriage has been headlined by this year, not ‘disappointment’ but ‘hope’.
After reminding us that we won’t always be driving a swanky Mercedes SLK (those were the days!) and that sometimes we will be infuriated by each other’s ‘cute’ little habits, the preacher shared the story of Jesus’ death and how two of His friends, who were so devastated by their loss, used the words ‘We had hoped…’. Everything they had dreamt of for so long (Jesus being the promised redeemer) had been obliterated by his death and they were crushed by disappointment. What these two friends didn’t realise at the time, is that Jesus was actually standing right in front of them!
‘We had hoped…then Jesus drew near‘ is the one-liner that we took away from that sermon all those twenty years ago and I can honestly say that we have been brought back to it time and time again throughout our marriage.
A few months ago, I wrote a post about what has got us through as a married couple over the last two difficult years. The post was well read and I got some really positive feedback but there was one huge part of our lives that I didn’t mention in great detail. It’s a part that I absolutely know we could not have got through many of the difficult times without, and that is Jesus…God…our faith.
There are no real ‘secrets’ to our marriage, just a willingness to lean on God when it matters. Oh and the small fact that I managed to bag myself a man who is totally selfless. A man who I am learning to love and appreciate more with every passing year.